Idaho Bill Attacking Critical Race Theory is Affront to Academic Freedom
PEN America says bill will impose censorship while masquerading as a defense against it
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(New York, NY) — Idaho Governor Brad Little last week signed HB 377 into law, a bill that reflects efforts by Republican legislators in multiple states to bar the teaching of critical race theory in public schools and higher education institutions. The bill states that no public educational institutions “shall direct or otherwise compel” students to “affirm, adopt, or adhere” to any of a set of tenets related to racism or sexism, such as the belief that an individuals should be adversely treated on the basis of aspects of their identity, or the belief that an individual is inherently responsible for past actions committed by members of the same identity group.
“It’s a shame to see free speech in educational institutions jeopardized for an act of political theater,” said Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression and education at PEN America. “This bill claims to defend intellectual honesty, freedom of inquiry, and freedom of speech. In reality, it tramples on them. The practical effect of this bill will be to chill open and honest discussion within Idaho schools on the role of race in American history or politics. Make no mistake: This is an attempt to use the power of the state to silence those who turn a critical lens to American history. This bill will impose censorship while masquerading as a defense against censorship, imposing a political litmus test on the ideas our children are able to examine and discuss. Idaho’s legislature should immediately move to rescind this embarrassing, censorious, misguided, and offensive law.”